From 1987 the Andrea Aranow Textile Design Collection, housed at Textile Hive, has been a behind the scenes inspiration resource to product designers around the globe. Over the years we've had the privilege to have our collection inspire companies and designers like Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Schumacher, Target among thousands of others. However, since 2009 and our project to reimagine our collection, our approach to how our collection is used has evolved. Though we still enjoy working with designers and companies, our collection is now used to teach textile design history in colleges, through seminars in Portland and to spread textile knowledge and exchange through events like Portland Textile Month.
In the spirit of these new initiatives, we are excited to let you know about our first product collaboration, a blanket made with Last Chance Textiles. Our goal with our product collaborations is to tell a compelling story about a textile in our collection, work with people and brands we admire, make a product we want to exist and provide you an opportunity to support the work we do with our collection and the broader textile community. Though the result is beautiful we hope you will find the story and journey equally compelling.
Our collaboration with Last Chance Textiles began in February with between Andrea, Lindsey, and Caleb. We have been fans of Last Chance Textiles and Lindsey since we first saw the beautiful naturally dyed bandanas and admired the authenticity of her products. Like any modern multi-city collaboration (and one of Caleb's favorite albums- Give Up by Postal Service) it involved a lot of digital exchange but as we honed in on the object we wanted to create and the textile that would inspire it, the project became soon became very hands on.
I (Andrea) was overjoyed when invited to collaborate with Lindsey Fout and Textile Hive for a brand new knitted blanket. Out of the many pattern contenders for our start, I voted for this stencil printed cotton yukata fabric from Japan. Monotones are plentiful there, but the ratio in this design especially appealed to me.
It is balanced, but in motion; becoming and then diminishing in turn. I liked the addition of strongly contrasting colors, a la Lichtenstein, to give it a pop! of our moment. It's no time to be shy!
In working with Textile Hive, I (Lindsey) relished the chance to work with an item from the archive and gained more understanding from Andrea's perspective and consultation. There was an intimacy with the original textile that surpassed anything I could gain from a book or museum.
This collaboration pushed me into new territory on multiple fronts, including learning how to translate my vision into a new textile technique. The jacquard knitting process required a precise grid design wherein each square or pixel was a knit stitch. The original Yukata has a soft, hand-drawn quality to the graphic, so I wanted to make sure I maintained those slight irregularities when I built out the shapes. The most challenging part of the process was creating the artwork file by drawing the graphic pixel by pixel so it had the overall optical illusion of the original while maintaining some irregularities. I feel like I considered all 245,000 stitches/pixels individually. Another hurdle was deciding on yarn fiber and yarn color. We landed on an oh-so-soft merino-cotton blend. In the end, Caleb and Andrea called the shot on the color combination. Their decision proves the benefit of great collaboration. These primary pops are not where my instincts would have led me color-wise, but it was absolutely the best choice and I''m thrilled with the result.
The whole process of creating a blanket from concept to finished product was fascinating for me (Caleb). For fifteen years I've worked with designers with finding inspiration and translating their ideas through our collection. It was really stimulating working with Lindsey and to see the steps that to go from original inspiration to having a product in hand, along with all of the interesting logistics challenges. We couldn't have asked for a better collaborator, Lindsey is so talented and our work styles merged well together. We started with the goal of creating a timeless object that we would want to own and I feel we achieved it. The graphic design works equally well flat as a design centerpiece or draped over your shoulders with its pattern undulating like waves.
I like that the reverse side has a lovely crackling texture to it and many people have commented that they like it as much as the face. Finally, and most importantly, the Last Chance Blanket works as a textile, soft to the touch, cozy and inviting.
We hope you like it as much as we do.